Angel Pagan at “the top of the Braves wish list”

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I saw this rumor at the paddock before the second race, outside the men’s room when I placed my bet. I saw this rumor before it even got up this morning:

The Braves are exploring other options via free agency – San Francisco’s Angel Pagan probably tops that short list — or through a trade.

That’s David O’Brien of the AJC, who notes that the top trade target is Denard Span of the Twins, who he and others believe can be had for a starting pitcher. And the Braves do have a handful of starting pitchers in their system.

Pagan, who is 31, hit .288/.338/.440 with eight homers and 29 steals last year for the Giants. The Giants, however, are likely to want him back, and several other teams are likely to be in on that action as well.

Span is going to be 29 next year. He’s certainly not the hitter that Pagan is, but he’s also under team control for three more years at a decent price: $4.75 million in 2013, $6.5 million in 2014 and a $9 million team option for 2015.

Giants remove pitching coach Dave Righetti

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After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.

According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.

Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.

Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.